Bringing Nature into the Home

Bringing Nature into the Home

Bringing Nature into the Home

The family’s firstborn son is married and household members have increased. For the past 40 years, the old house located on a residential estate has gone through various stages of repair and expansion. The time for further improvements has come, and the Sattayavinij family thought it wise to renovate the dated, tired- looking home, turning it into one that’s warm, livable, and in sync with the present time.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham 

Woranol Sattayavinij, the firstborn, is an architect at the reputable company Architects 49 Limited. And the responsibility to remake the home rested with him. Earlier on, the family had entertained the idea of tearing down the old house to make room for a new one set on 96 square wah of land. Fully aware of the family’s lifestyle needs, the kind of place they wanted, and the limited budget they had, he had a change of mind and went for a renovation project instead.

 

Tall aluminum latticework that makes the front façade protects the west-facing home from harsh sunlight. It provides a buffer against solar heat gain building up in the interior. On the street, black iron lattice fencing promotes natural air circulation and doubles as a privacy screen.
Tall aluminum latticework that makes the front façade protects the west-facing home from harsh sunlight. It provides a buffer against solar heat gain building up in the interior. On the street, black iron lattice fencing promotes natural air circulation and doubles as a privacy screen.

“I made a walkway connecting to the courtyard that has become  our sitting room.  Using my stock of lumber and wood recycled from the old house, I mixed teak with Makha wood (Afzelia xylocarpa), and gave it a fresh layer of paint.  It was a mix-match since the boards came in different sizes, but  nothing serious.  Now mom and her sister seem really pleased  that it’s a nice spot to sit and catch the cool breezes.”

“The question is: How can I go about it in coming up with design that’s open, bright and well ventilated? First, the land itself isn’t oriented in a direction that can avoid getting direct sunlight or minimize solar heat gain. Besides, it’s a modest home. There isn’t much room for the long roof overhangs needed to protect it from the elements. So I solve the problem by putting a courtyard at the center of the home plan to make the interior light, airy and very comfortable,” said the architect.

That said, Woranol chose box-shaped design featuring twin rectangular buildings that run parallel to each other with a courtyard in between. The little oasis that’s open to the sky contains a small garden with a wood deck made for sitting and catching some fresh air. It serves as engine that drives natural air circulation all day. This creates a comfortable atmosphere in the entrance hall. As for the A/C, who needs it anyway? The forward part of the house has a carport that’s separated from the street by wrought iron fencing. The black on the fence contrasts with the silver on aluminum latticework protecting the building. From the outside looking in, it’s clear that privacy protection is high on the list of priorities. It’s achievable without sacrificing the desire to live in close touch with nature.

A flight of garden steps leading to the house interior is canopied by overhanging trees thriving along the fence line. The corridor offers enough room to stroll around in the privacy of home.
A flight of garden steps leading to the house interior is canopied by overhanging trees thriving along the fence line. The corridor offers enough room to stroll around in the privacy of home.
The unroofed area between the buildings becomes a small courtyard garden. At the further end, the architect puts in a long seat for people to relax under the shade.
The unroofed area between the buildings becomes a small courtyard garden. At the further end, the architect puts in a long seat for people to relax under the shade.

Evergreen Korean banyan trees (Ficus annulata) lining the fence and the house exterior reduce the harshness of concrete construction and make the home appear more environmentally friendly. The house with 450 square meters of usable space boasts a bright and airy interior, thanks to open floor plans that emphasize interconnectedness throughout. Modern glass room dividers promote visibility and warm social interactions within the family. Steel construction saves time and makes the interior living space appear spacious and lightweight. In the end it’s all about feeling good and living better. “I made a walkway connecting to the courtyard that has become our sitting room. Using my stock of lumber and wood recycled from the old house, I mixed teak with Makha wood (Afzelia xylocarpa), and gave it a fresh layer of paint. It was a mix- match since the boards came in different sizes, but nothing serious. Now mom and her sister seem really pleased that it’s a nice spot to sit and catch the cool breezes.

An empty space between buildings looks stunning from the architectural perspective.
An empty space between buildings looks stunning from the architectural perspective.

“For security purposes, iron latticework is preferred over solid walls. To keep the sun out, the perforate shell is lined with trees. There is an Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis) that has grown tall to shade the interior and give sweet smelling white flowers. We also put in a Common Tembusa tree (Fagraea fragrans) which grows slowly, and a Brazilian rose wood (Jacaranda obtusifolia) which is loved for its beautiful purple flowers. The courtyard floor is covered by a container garden intended to make cleaning easy after seasonal heavy rains. It’s OK to get wet sometimes, but it’s better than being enclosed by solid walls,” Woranol explained. His choice of furniture speaks to the minimalist style of interior design. The idea of less-is-more translates into an interior living space that’s open, easy on the eye, and conducive to natural ventilation. It’s easy to get why everyone likes to hang out together in the hallway downstairs that connects to the lush courtyard garden. The natural environment helps them feel relaxed all day every day.

While lattice screens go to work protecting the home from the outside world, large opening glass walls connect the interior room to a lush courtyard garden thrown in between buildings. Diffused light and winds passing through the permeable shell keep the entrance hall cool all day without the A/C. No wonder it’s the family’s favorite hangout.
While lattice screens go to work protecting the home from the outside world, large opening glass walls connect the interior room to a lush courtyard garden thrown in between buildings. Diffused light and winds passing through the permeable shell keep the entrance hall cool all day without the A/C. No wonder it’s the family’s favorite hangout.
Adjacent to the sofa set, the dining room is well lit and made comfortable by fresh air blowing in from the nearby courtyard garden.
Adjacent to the sofa set, the dining room is well lit and made comfortable by fresh air blowing in from the nearby courtyard garden.
The raised passageway around the courtyard is built of old wood worn by long exposure to the weather. Concrete steps provide easy access to the garden floor. It’s a place to sit with your legs hanging down, enjoy a patch of greenery, and shoot the breeze on a lazy afternoon.
The raised passageway around the courtyard is built of old wood worn by long exposure to the weather. Concrete steps provide easy access to the garden floor. It’s a place to sit with your legs hanging down, enjoy a patch of greenery, and shoot the breeze on a lazy afternoon.
An Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis), the courtyard’s main attraction, develops a healthy crown near the studio and the bedroom on the upper floor.
An Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis), the courtyard’s main attraction, develops a healthy crown near the studio and the bedroom on the upper floor.
While they allow natural light and fresh air to pass into the courtyard, metal lattice panels also double as privacy screens and safety precautions against intruders.
While they allow natural light and fresh air to pass into the courtyard, metal lattice panels also double as privacy screens and safety precautions against intruders.
The room upstairs can be used for work or pleasure. Open the door to see what happens below, and take in the view of the lush courtyard garden. Some fresh air really will do you good. After all, it’s about bringing nature into the home.
The room upstairs can be used for work or pleasure. Open the door to see what happens below, and take in the view of the lush courtyard garden. Some fresh air really will do you good. After all, it’s about bringing nature into the home.
Rustling leaves in the Indian cork tree make a sound that has a relaxing effect, especially for the home office and the bedroom located across the yard.
Rustling leaves in the Indian cork tree make a sound that has a relaxing effect, especially for the home office and the bedroom located across the yard.

You may also like

In Nature’s Peaceful Embrace
In Nature’s Peaceful Embrace

Surrounded by Warmth and Happiness
Surrounded by Warmth and Happiness

About the Author

X